USIP's Media, Conflict & Peacebuilding Roundup

United States Institute of Peace


Center of Innovation: Media, Conflict and Peacebuilding

Weekly News Roundup, August 16 - 22, 2012

Media and Journalism

Internet and Social Media

What's New from PeaceMedia

Media and Journalism

Gunshots End Footage of Japanese Reporter Slain in Syria
The last footage taken by Mika Yamamoto, the Japanese journalist who died Monday in Syria, ends abruptly with sudden shots, a grim parallel to her own life being cut short. But the newly released video also testifies to how the veteran war correspondent looked to capture the conflict beyond battle. Before her death, Yamamoto and her partner recorded scenes of a battered Aleppo, the camera lingering on the people still living amid the violence.
See the full article (Los Angeles Times, Rima Marrouch and Emily Alpert, 8/22/12)
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Burma Abolishes Media Censorship
The Press Scrutiny and Registration Department said that as of Monday, reporters would no longer have to submit their work to state censors before publication. However, strict laws remain in place which could see journalists punished for what they have written. Burma has kept tight control over all aspects of its media for some 50 years. But the civilian government has been gradually easing restrictions since taking office last year.
See the full article (BBC, 8/20/12)
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Two Brothers Wage Media War for Syrian Rebels
As the Syrian uprising rages on, the rebel Free Syria Army is getting some technological help from young Syrians living outside the country. Two brothers are risking their lives to aid the rebels in what they call "the media war" against the Syrian government. Syrian Ayman Al Haddad is helping Syrian opposition activists get their stories communicated outside the country.
See the full article (Voice of America, Rudi Bakhtiar, /20/12)
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Ramadan TV Gently Pushes Saudi Boundaries
The state-sanctioned [comedy "Hush Hush"] makes the case for female drivers in a jokey way that heartens modern-minded viewers without provoking traditional ones. Even on state television gentle social satire about Saudi life is permissible and also welcome during Ramadan. Their own programming tests the fault line between modernity and tradition; in a rigidly controlled country television is the arena in which small rebellions can be staged and festering tensions addressed.
See the full article (New York Times, Alessandra Stanley, 8/19/12) *NYT sign-up may be required to view the full article
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News Media in Bulgaria Struggle for Independence
The European Commission has vowed to monitor media freedoms closely in Bulgaria, where rival political and business groups have taken control of top news organizations and used them to promote their interests. More than two decades after the fall of Communism, Bulgaria, which joined the European Union in 2007, is still struggling to build a strong and independent news media.
See the full article (New York Times, Boryana Dzhambazova, 8/19/12) *NYT sign-up may be required to view the full article
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Kuwait's TV Serial on Unity During Iraq Invasion Stirs Debate over Current Political Discord
A television serial on Iraq's 1990 invasion has become more than just a retelling of the occupation and the brief but intense Gulf War. The series is being seen by many as a reminder of past national unity at a time when Kuwait is caught in a near endless cycle of tribal bickering and political showdowns between the Western-backed ruling family and conservative Islamists, who want to impose measures such as banning public concerts and blocking women athletes from major sporting events.
See the full article (AP, 8/16/12)
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Pursuing Soft Power, China Puts Stamp on Africa's News
At a time when most Western broadcasting and newspaper companies are retrenching, China's state-run news media giants are rapidly expanding in Africa. Many fear that the impact of China's news media juggernaut will be especially pronounced in countries where freedoms are fragile. During the protests that wracked the Arab world, China's coverage strenuously avoided the word "democracy" and emphasized the chaos that accompanied the demise of authoritarian governments, news media analysts say.
See the full article (New York Times, Andrew Jacobs, 8/16/12) *NYT sign-up may be required to view the full article
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Internet and Social Media

India Targets Social Media Sites After Assam Violence
Indian authorities have cracked down on social networking sites following unrest and an exodus of migrant workers fearing revenge attacks. The government threatened legal action against the websites if they did not remove "inflammatory" content. Facebook and Google have removed some material, but only in cases where it broke rules on hate speech and inciting violence. The added government pressure on sites and internet service providers will fuel debate in the country over censorship issues.
See the full article (BBC, 8/22/12)
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New Kickstarter Pitch: 'Join the Syrian Uprising'
Two veterans of last year's Libya conflict have put together a Kickstarter project to fund what they call a "groundbreaking and unique film" about the Syria rebels - and it's a hair's breath away from using the online crowdfunding service to fund the resistance to Bashar Assad. The unorthodox film project, blatant boosterism for the revolution, carries a risk of death for the filmmakers, who intend it to be a flint sparking revolutions elsewhere.
See the full article (Wired, Spencer Ackerman, 8/21/12)
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Chinese Telecoms Company Keeps Syria Connected to the Internet, Research Firm Says
A firm that tracks the pathways of the Internet says a Chinese company is keeping war-torn Syria connected to the Internet as other telecommunications companies withdraw. The Syrian government ultimately controls Internet connection to the outside world but it's a major route for rebel communications and news from the country as the civil war intensifies. China is one of Syria's few international allies.
See the full article (AP, 8/21/12)
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Julian Assange Demands U.S. End WikiLeaks 'Witch Hunt'
Julian Assange demanded that the United States drop its "witch hunt" against WikiLeaks on Sunday as he made his first public appearance after months effectively confined to the Embassy of Ecuador in London. Assange also referred to The New York Times, the Bahraini activist Nabeel Rajab and the Russian feminist punk band Pussy Riot in his 10-minute appearance. The founder of WikiLeaks spoke from a balcony at the Embassy of Ecuador in London, where he has been holed up since June.
See the full article (CNN, Atika Shubert and Alex Felton, 8/19/12)
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The Online Ummah
Long before social media helped to usher in the Arab spring, jihadis used ghastly video clips and online forums to attract foot soldiers to their cause. Yet as more and more Muslims buy smartphones and get online, it is unlikely that radicals will benefit most. Hatred and extremism fester in closed polities, whereas the internet tends to strengthen the tolerant and open-minded.
See the full article (Economist, 8/18/12)
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Did Global Voices Use Diverse Sources on Twitter for Arab Spring Coverage?
Citizen journalism and social media have become major sources for the news, especially after the Arab uprisings of early 2011. Audience analytics and source verification only paint part of the picture. While upcoming technologies will help newsrooms understand their readers and better use citizen sources, we remain blind to the way the news is used in turn by citizen sources to gain credibility and spread ideas.
See the full article (PBS, J. Nathan Matias, 8/16/12)
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Syrian Rebels Put Captured Iranian Drones on YouTube
Chalk up another victory for the social-media prowess of the Syrian rebels. The opposition to Bashar Assad says it's captured spy drones made by Assad's patron, Iran. And it's put the evidence on YouTube. The video is another example of the importance of social media for the Syrian opposition. Rebels with minimal military experience have shared instructions in infantry and reconnaissance tactics over YouTube and Facebook, down to basic lessons in how to clean and care for a rifle.
See the full article (Wired, Spencer Ackerman, 8/16/12)
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What's New from PeaceMedia

"Art Thrives in Former Pakistani Taliban Stronghold" - Al Jazeera
The Swat Valley in Pakistan was once considered a regional centre for arts and culture. All of that ended, however, with the arrival of the Taliban in 2008. They outlawed many forms of art, imposing their own brand of strict Islamic law. Today, as peace and normalcy slowly return to the valley, Swat's artists and craftsmen are back at work.
See the full video
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